Fla. Man Allegedly Beat Wife in Bathtub — and Left to Run Errands While She Lay Dying

Fla. Man Allegedly Beat Wife in Bathtub — and Left to Run Errands While She Lay Dying

On the morning of April 24, 2018, David Tronnes called 911 to report that his wife, Shanti Cooper-Tronnes, had fallen in the bathtub of their Orlando home. The seemingly-distraught husband was emotional and panicked while claiming he tried to resuscitate his wife.

But police believe his story is a lie — and they allege he beat and choked Cooper-Tronnes long before calling for help. According to a police report obtained by PEOPLE, cops allege Tronnes killed his wife and then went for a walk, took his dogs to a park and did some work around the house before the 911 call.

An autopsy revealed Cooper-Tronnes, 38, died from blunt force trauma to the head and strangulation. Moreover, crime scene investigators noted that the woman’s body was completely dry, which contradicted her husband’s claim that she had been in the partially-filled tub.

Four months after the body was discovered, Tronnes was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered to be held without bond.

RELATED: Husband Suspected in Wife’s Murder Claimed to Be a Millionaire, Police Say — but Was It All a Lie?

Tronnes faces trial later this year—- and authorities allege he had predicated his entire relationship with his wife on a lie. After the couple met on Match.com, he allegedly told her that he had inherited between $4 million and $6 million from his father — a claim that turned out to be untrue.

Friends started noticing that Tronnes paid for very little of the couple’s bills — and that he expected Cooper-Tronnes to keep them afloat financially. “He always talked about how he had a ton of money, but she couldn’t figure out why he was such a miser,” Cooper-Tronnes’ friend Melissa Burzinski told police after her death.

Authorities allege Tronnes killed his wife after she learned the truth about his finances — and also after learning he was allegedly going to bathhouses for anonymous sex with men.

For more on David Tronnes’ alleged web of lies, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday. 

Central to the case are the seeming contradictions in Tronnes’ story.

Police Detectives Teresa Sprague and Barb McClelland grilled Tronnes in a five-hour interview in which they asked him about the timeline of his wife’s death. As Tronnes maintained his innocence, both Sprague and McClelland told him that his story “ make any sense” and that physical evidence in the home contradicted his explanation.

Detective Sprague believes Cooper-Tronnes was actually ambushed by her husband on the previous night, as she got ready for bed. She was wearing only one earring, while the other earring was on her nightstand along with her other jewelry and cell phone.

“It seemed plausible to me she had placed her cell phone on the nightstand and started to remove her jewelry, including her watch and one earring, and was in the process of removing her left earring when she was attacked,” Sprague wrote in a police report.

RELATED: After Allegedly Murdering His Wife, Fla. Man ‘Fake Cried’ for Hours During Interrogation: Police

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Sprague noted that Cooper-Tronnes had no defensive wounds on her arms, indicating that she may have been knocked out by the first blow.

In the police report, Sprague alleged that Tronnes likely moved the body to the bathtub after he killed her, cleaned up the scene and then moved the body back to the bedroom. While Tronnes told detectives he found his wife in the bathtub and moved her onto a mattress pad on the floor, Sprague alleged that the amount of blood on the bedroom floor indicated that the woman’s body was likely on the floor for a while.

Tronnes has claimed that he is indigent, and will now be represented by a public defender. His trial is scheduled to begin later this year. He is being held in jail without bond.

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